The Third Marquess of Salisbury first opened his great collection of family papers at Hatfield to the Commission's inspection in 1871. A preliminary report was published in the Appendix to the Commissioners' Third Report in 1872. Eleven years later, in 1883, the first volume appeared of the more detailed Calendar, of which the present volume is the twenty-fourth and last.
The successful completion of this great series of Salisbury (Cecil) MSS is one of the Commission's proudest achievements. The special thanks of the Commissioners are due to successive Marquesses of Salisbury who have most generously allowed the work to continue, and to their librarians at Hatfield for unfailing help and assistance. Their thanks are also due to the many distinguished scholars and editors who have, in the course of a century, contributed to the preparation of the individual volumes in which their names are recorded, and to the creation of what has proved to be a major working tool for all historians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Denning, M. R. Chairman of the Commission